At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the reports about Jesus, 2 and he said to his attendants, “This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead! That is why miraculous powers are at work in him.”
3 Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, 4 for John had been saying to him: “It is not lawful for you to have her.” 5 Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of the people, because they considered John a prophet.
6 On Herod’s birthday the daughter of Herodias danced for the guests and pleased Herod so much 7 that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. 8 Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” 9 The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he ordered that her request be granted 10 and had John beheaded in the prison. 11 His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother. 12 John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus.
King Herod the Tetrarch (not the Herod who wanted Jesus killed at birth) had a guilty conscience. His reaction to Jesus is telling. Those who do evil things are often haunted by phantoms. Think of Macbeth in Shakespeare’s play who has hallucinations and loses his sanity as he unbridles his ambition. A guilty conscience is the fruit of a scheming mind. However, those of us who have a past are often troubled by it. We need not have murdered someone and be trying to justify it. I remember that my mother worked as a cleaner at a house with a pool in England as I was growing up. I was playing with one of the children’s submarines in the fall and I let it sink in the pool where I couldn’t get it. I don’t think that I told anyone, but it gnawed away at me for months afterwards.
How does someone respond to Jesus who has cultivated a life of sin? Fear. Those who go to cruel means to control grow increasingly afraid of losing that control. We see this in the repression in the Middle East at the time of writing this. Fear of repercussions leads to profound exploitation of people.
- What was Herod’s response to Jesus?
- How did Herod get himself in this predicament?
- How would you describe Herod’s wife?
- When does ambition lead to evil?
- How are you held captive by a guilty conscience? How will Jesus reveal that?
1. He believed that it must be John the Baptist risen from the dead. Reading between the lines, he must have been afraid.
2. A series of horrible decisions. Herod took his brother’s wife. And when John spoke against this decision, Herod put him in prison. On his birthday, he promised Herodias’ daughter whatever she wanted when she pleased him with her dance.
3. Conniving. Vindictive.
4. When the driving force is self and the satisfaction of our own unchecked desires.
5. I don’t believe that I am held captive by guilt at this point in my life. But I certainly have been–even recently. Praise God that he can push through that and heal those places. Praise God for his complete forgiveness.
Peter – just want to be sure I am reading this right…when this passage talks about King Herod hearing the reports of Jesus in v. 1-2, did he hear these reports AFTER he had already had John the Baptist beheaded? Thanks for clarification!
Yes, he had John beheaded and then though Jesus was John raised to life again.
Control has always been my survival mode. It makes me feel comfortable. I have, through God’s assistance and grace, been working on letting it go but it is hard. I just encountered a situation where I let go of the control and was emotionally vulnerable and to be honest, it felt very uncomfortable. May God continue to give me peace through letting go of my control and not feeling pressure to be “strong.”